Conspiracies: Past, Present, Always (HIS2112.01)

Eileen Scully

Conspiracy theories have a long and interesting history in American politics and culture. Indeed, some of today’s most diabolical conspiracy theories actually took hold in the era of the American Revolution. They have persisted across generations and centuries, periodically exploding into epidemic-level mass paranoia. Through select case studies, primary documents, cultural artifacts, films, and declassified dossiers, we will explore conspiracy theories as an enduring but not entirely benign phenomenon of everyday life in America. We will also explore the newest generation of entrepreneurial and partisan conspiracism, along with the creation and dissemination of conspiracy theories through social media, deepfakes, augmented reality, and gamification. Course work includes readings, weekly written work, presentations, small-group activities, and projects such as podcasts.

This class will include a mixture of in-person and zoom class meetings.


Learning Outcomes:
Students will fully engage Bennington's core capacities (Inquire, Research, Create, Engage, and Communicate), as we work to:
1. Generate tentative observations based upon identified facts and intuitive insights
2. Identify and integrate key elements within and across case studies
3. Successfully collaborate with others on a range of activities
4. Transform self-constructed, fact-driven narratives into media-based productions (such as podcasts)
5. Become familiar with the creation and dissemination of conspiracy theories through social media, deepfakes, augmented reality, and gamification


Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 3:40PM - 5:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: History , Remotely Accessible , All courses
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